Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, Christ reminded us in the readings, how precious is the Lord to us, how wonderful is His kingdom, that is for us to inherit as eternal reward, if we remain faithful to Him who always loves us. The Kingdom of God is truly a precious and priceless gift to all, that everyone should indeed focus their attention on, as in the allusion made by Christ, that the kingdom of God is likened to a precious and top-quality pearl, so much so that one should sell all they have, just that they can own that wonderful and beautiful pearl.
So beautiful and perfect is the entire glory of God, that as stated in the first reading today, when Moses talked to the Lord face-to-face in the fullness of His glory and majesty, he would be bathed in His perfect and wonderful light, such that his face became the countenance of the Lord Himself, brilliant and radiant like the sun. Such was the glory of God reflected on the face of Moses, that he was compelled to hide his face by the means of the veil, so great is such glory that no one but Moses was allowed to see.
Our Lord Jesus Christ too was glorified on the mountaintop when He was transfigured from His human persona, and revealed the fullness of His glory and majesty. He revealed Himself to Peter, James, and John who were present at His Transfiguration. In that event too, we saw the same thing that had happened to Moses, in how Jesus Himself was transfigured into a figure of perfection and brilliance, except that the light itself came from Christ Himself, not because it was a reflection of God’s glory and majesty as in the case of Moses.
Why is this very important, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we listened to the word of God on how Moses faced God face-to-face? And why I mentioned Christ and His Transfiguration? That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been made in the image of God, that is our very face and countenance is a reflection of the very image of our God, the Creator Himself. We have the face of the Lord, but yet, we are not perfect as the Lord is perfect.
We were once perfect, in the early days of creation, when Adam and Eve still walked the Gardens of Eden, when they were still pure and without blame. After they had followed the devil instead of the Lord, they had lost sight of the treasure that the Lord would have given them for eternity. Mankind would have had no need to suffer, the suffering that is because of our sin and our rebellion against the Lord. Yet, we are the most beloved ones of the Lord, created in His own image, and He loved us still even after we had been corrupted by the sins our fathers had committed. That was why He sent Jesus Christ to the world, that man may be reunited once again with Him.
In our world, the devil has many tools to steer us away from the true path towards the Lord. There are many things that he can use, in order to continue his subversion of mankind, just as what he had once done to Eve and to Adam. He offered Eve the knowledge of things good and evil, and the tempting suggestion that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would make her God’s equal. These are the same things he can utilise in our world today, to make us falter in our journey of faith.
We must set our focus right, on the true treasure that is the Lord and His love, and not be distracted by the false and temporary treasures of the world, such as wealth, properties, pleasure, and many other thing this world offers us, and our world offers us as things that we should all pursue. It is not that it is wrong to have money, wealth, and pleasure, because it is perfectly fine for us to have these, if these would help us to live in our increasingly challenging world. We do need money and worldly goods to be able to live on and survive.
What is important is that we do not become distracted by them, that we lost track of our real treasure, that is God. So precious is this wealth to us that we all should be motivated to seek it, and the wealth and treasures we have in this world should be directed to help us to obtain the real treasure. We do not have to go to the extent of selling everything in order to get that true treasure, but certainly, we need to put in effort in order to gain our true treasure and reward in God.
Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the priest and founder of the Jesuit order, the largest religious order and movement in our Church today, of which our current Pope, Pope Francis, is a member of. St. Ignatius Loyola was born in Spain to a family of noble, who inherited much wealth and affluence in the society. St. Ignatius Loyola was destined to be a great knight and noble, and participated in much activities that the nobles used to do at that time.
St. Ignatius Loyola was born to a life of privilege, to a life of wealth and sufficiency, with all the things that all of us surely would have craved for. He was brought up to be a knight, seeking valour and fame through all his activities, seeking ever greater fame as he grew up, participating frequently in battles and duels in order to gain more fame and power. Yet, as he progressed on through life, he grew unsatisfied by these ‘treasures’ that he had.
St. Ignatius Loyola eventually left all that he had and abandoned the inheritance, the fame, and the glory he had once had, and instead, became the knight of Christ. Therefore, he no longer served himself, his own ego, his own pride and glory, but instead he gave it all to serve the Lord our God. Christendom then was in great turmoil, with people leaving the Church to the Reformation heresy every day. More and more left the Church tempted by the devil and his tools in this world, those who rebelled against the Lord and His Church.
That marked the beginning of the Jesuit order, which was first established by St. Ignatius Loyola and several of his companions. The Jesuit order rapidly grew and spread throughout Europe and Christendom at the time, combatting heresies and evils of the world, converting many back to the true faith, and stemmed the tide of destruction caused by the Reformation. The Reformation itself might have had good intentions, but in its implementation, it was a disaster for the faith, for God’s people, for the Church of God.
That was what the Jesuits, under the leadership of St. Ignatius Loyola was trying to combat and fight, in the Name of the Lord, which was the reason behind their name, that is the Society of Jesus. They, who had found the true treasure in God, and truly treasure this treasure, the priceless treasure, sought to ensure that others too can find their true treasure that is the Lord our God, and not to be misled by the devil into the chasm of damnation in hell, because of their heresy and transgressions against the true faith, as was rampant during the time of St. Ignatius Loyola.
The Jesuits are still active today, and together with many other religious orders, they work to continue the good works started by St. Ignatius Loyola and many other saints, so that more and more souls may be saved and prevented from falling into the traps of Satan. The hard work by St. Ignatius Loyola and his successors ensured that many are saved and received their true treasure in God, their eternal reward of everlasting life in the bliss of heaven.
We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, can do our part to bring more souls and indeed, ourselves to the Lord and His salvation, by ensuring that we keep our focus right, that is to focus ourselves on the real treasure that is the Lord our God, and do not become distracted by the world and all its temptations. Instead, let us use whatever graces and blessings that had been given to us, in wealth and other things, that we may use them as best as possible, to help us to achieve the real treasure of our lives. May St. Ignatius Loyola intercede for us that the Lord will always keep us strong in our struggle against evil and keep us in His embrace and favour, always, forever and ever. Amen.